I love baseball. But there are some things about this sport that infuriate me. One of them is depicted above. (No, it's not the Yankees.)
We all love baseball. That's why you're here, right?
But with all things we love, there are things we can't stand about baseball. Here are some of the things I hate about the game we love. Perhaps you agree. Perhaps you won't. None of us approach baseball in exactly the same way. Leave your thoughts in the comments. This is a numbered list, but don't assume I put these in any particular order. Because I didn't.
- TV blackouts. This is infuriating for many people who live in the multi-shaded areas on this colorful territorial map that shows where Major League Baseball has gone out of its way to prevent its fans from watching its product. Particularly affected are people in Iowa and Las Vegas. It's really simple, MLB: If someone is willing to pay to watch a game, he or she should be able to do so.
- Incessant pitching changes. I'm tired of watching managers troop back and forth to the mound, attempting to get a platoon advantage over a hitter, which is immediately negated by the other manager putting up a pinch-hitter from the opposite side of the plate. This makes already-draggy games even longer. We already have a limit on the number of mound visits a manager can make to any one pitcher before removing him. Why not have an additional limit on pitching changes in a particular inning? It would make bullpen management -- something a lot of managers aren't really good at anyway -- even more important.
- Managing to the save rule. Related to the above point, the modern manager insists on bringing in a pitcher designated "the closer" for the final three outs, no matter how well the previous pitcher did, what the score is, or who the upcoming hitters are. The save rule is now driving the use of pitchers, rather than game situations. You can't really do anything about this by a rule change, but I wish managers would stop doing it.
- Batters constantly stepping out of the batter's box. There's a theme of sorts here, in case you hadn't noticed, and that is: games are longer than ever, and this isn't helping. The three-hour game has now replaces the 2:30 game as commonplace; sub-two-hour games are almost extinct. Hitters should stand in and hit, instead of the constant adjustment of batting gloves, kicking dirt off spikes, etc. In addition to this, I believe the 12-second rule requiring a pitcher to throw his next pitch within that amount of time after receiving the ball back (presuming no one is on base) should be enforced. With a clock behind the plate, if necessary. Yes, I'm talking to you, Josh Beckett.
- "This Time It Counts." Rob Neyer disagrees with me, but it's time to get rid of the ridiculous idea that World Series home field should be determined by the result of an exhibition game that's played by completely different standards than a regular-season contest. Just about any other idea would be better, but the best one is to do the same thing that's done in all the other playoff rounds: the team with the better record gets home field. (And no, Bud. Not being able to get hotel rooms is not an excuse.)
- Not having the same rules in both leagues. This is the DH elephant-in-the-room. Whether you like the DH or hate it, it's wrong to have different rules in the two leagues, which really aren't leagues any more, but more like NFL-style conferences. This is especially true beginning next year, with year-round interleague play. Having the DH in one league and not in the other would be like the NFL having two-point conversions in AFC games, but not in NFC games. Or the NBA having three-point goals in the Western Conference, but not in the Eastern Conference. Eventually, this will have to change, and baseball will either have the DH everywhere, or pitchers will bat everywhere. (I'd bet on it being the former.)
- Baseball's refusal to institute replay review. This should have been done several years ago. It does look as if some replay review beyond the current system of home-run review will be instituted in 2013, but it will still leave out the most-often-made blown call: the safe/out call. Seriously, Bud. If the camera system now being tested can do fair/foul and caught/trapped, it can do safe/out. Just do it, already.
- Baseball's refusal to let the Athletics move to San Jose. The Giants, now winners of two of the last three World Series, are being intransigent. There's really no possible truth behind the Giants' theory that giving up the San Jose territory they cling to would hurt their fanbase one bit. The A's going to San Jose is really a no-brainer for everyone; it helps the A's, is good for baseball and probably in the long run, good for the Giants, as the additional interest in baseball would likely help them, too. Bud Selig has been dragging his feet on this for three years. Again: Just do it, already.
- The Hall of Fame's refusal to induct Buck O'Neil. In 2006, 17 people associated with the Negro Leagues were inducted into the Hall -- but Buck wasn't. Buck, being the fine human being that he was, said the snub didn't bother him:
"God’s been good to me. They didn’t think Buck was good enough to be in the Hall of Fame. That’s the way they thought about it and that’s the way it is, so we’re going to live with that. Now, if I’m a Hall of Famer for you, that’s all right with me. Just keep loving old Buck. Don’t weep for Buck. No, man, be happy, be thankful."What a great man. As a gesture, the Hall had O'Neil speak on behalf of the Negro Leaguers at the 2006 induction; he died just a few months later. But he really should have a plaque in the Hall, too. Incidentally, if you are ever in Kansas City, do not fail to visit the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, where O'Neil's life and legacy are well celebrated.
- The offseason. Isn't it time for more baseball, already?